The Permanent Grandsonsly Record
Vertically Challenged: “Love this little video!
“Three of our grandsons were on vacation this week: Tanner, George and Aiden — these boys LOVE to make music, wherever they are and with whatever they have on hand . . . or foot!”
Now & Then
Tim Torkildson takes us back: “Subject: Escaping demographics.
“There was a time, my little nippers, when the concept of ‘demographics’ was limited to dismal drudges called actuaries — pathetic men who toiled over statistics and averages all day in an airless office in the bowels of insurance buildings for their rapacious masters, in order to inform them of how long an average white Caucasian male residing in Ohio could be expected to live before kicking the bucket. The dismal science of demographics was never applied to anything but selling life insurance.
“With no demographics to emphasize our differences, the world as I knew it as a child was as homogenized and undemographic as a bottle of milk from Ewald Bros. Dairy.
“Everyone looked alike, acted alike, and thought alike. Our duty as American citizens was to blend in. Niche marketing? Not likely! It was assumed by all parties that everyone wanted to be the same as everyone else.
“Advertising agencies figured that everyone wanted to smoke, so on television I could watch Jed Clampett or Fred Flintstone puffing merrily away on Winstons. Sub rosa, we kids took the Winston jingle, which began ‘Winston tastes good like a cigarette should’ and burlesqued it thus: ‘Winston tastes bad like the one I just had — no filter, no flavor, just cotton-pickin’ paper . . . .’
“In the late ’50s, not everyone and his dog had a television set. So on Sunday evenings my parents would occasionally host an impromptu gathering of neighbors who lacked a boob tube — to watch ‘The Ed Sullivan Show.’ That was a show that cocked a definite snook at the whole concept of demographics. It featured highbrow opera selections cheek by jowl with Topo Gigio, while circus acrobats rubbed shoulders with the tone-deaf Mrs. Miller or the trills of Tiny Tim. For my money, nobody could hold a candle to the Spanish ventriloquist Senor Wences.
“I took standardized tests in school. Lots of ’em. They had to make sure I was standardized, and that I stayed that way.
“Fathers worked. Mothers were housewives. Little boys had crewcuts. Little girls played with Chatty Cathy or Betsy Wetsy dolls. Deviations were not tolerated. I recall a poor kid in my fourth-grade class who was left-handed. His parents put a soft cast on his left arm, forcing him to use his right hand for writing and eating. He cried a lot, and sometimes didn’t make it to the boys’ room in time.
“Everyone had the same magazines on their coffee table: Good Housekeeping, the Saturday Evening Post, Redbook, and Look.
“Demographics played no conscious part in the immigrant background of everyone in the neighborhood. My best friend Wayne Matsuura’s parents spoke Japanese when they didn’t want us eavesdropping. My dad swore lustily in Norwegian, and my mother yelled ‘Fermez la bouche‘ at me so frequently when I was little, I thought it was my first name. The Ciattis on the corner had so many pots of oregano and basil on their porch that it looked like a Jungle Jim movie set. We kids suspected their crabby grandmother was an Italian witch, who flitted about the night skies riding on a pepperoni pizza. They were all just our neighbors: some good, some pesky — but we never divided them into demographic categories. That was census-taker work — those nosy Parkers who came by once every 10 years, or so my mother told me.
“Yet, in my case, I may be making too much of this staid amalgam and how contented I was with it. For I can also remember a Bing Crosby song I heard as a boy that nagged at me all through grade school and then high school. It’s called ‘Far Away Places.’ Here are the lyrics:
” ‘Far away places with strange sounding names / Far away over the sea / Those far away places with the strange sounding names are / Calling / Calling me / Goin’ to China or maybe Siam / I wanna see for myself / Those far away places I’ve been reading about in a / Book that I took from a shelf / I start getting’ restless whenever I hear the whistle of a train / I pray for the day I can get underway / And look for those castles in Spain / They call me a dreamer / Well maybe I am / But I know that I’m burning to see those / Far away places with the strange sounding names / Calling, calling me.’
“And I read a book as a boy, called ‘A Wrinkle in Time,’ by Madeleine L’Engle, from which my horror of conformity sprang. And so I joined the circus a few months after graduating from high school, to find those faraway places and to escape the clutches of conventionality.
“But all that was long, long ago, my poppits. Now I am trapped in the demographic group known as ‘Baby Boomers,’ and the digital marketers know exactly what I need. I get pop-up ads for Preparation X, Caribbean cruises, Asian girlfriends, assisted-living condos, and Metamucil.
“But I’ll never give in to those cyber-hucksters. I’ve made it a hard and fast rule to never click on any digital ad. Ever. But, of course, if they could somehow resurrect Senor Wences and he endorsed a product, well then I just might take a gander at it.”
Now & Then
Including: Know thyself! (Hypothetical Division) — plus: Muse, amuse
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: (1) “Raccoons are territorial. Anyone who drives past city limits knows that there are a lot of new territories opening up every day.
“Sixty years ago, I was just coming off the Davy Crockett resurgence in toys and headwear and would bring home a roadkill tail once in a while. They were necessary on useless bicycle antennas (and hot rods, if you were older). They sold them at Coast to Coast along with handlebar streamers, headlights, horns and reflectors.
“Now when I see a raccoon ‘lounging’ on the highway in the middle of the day, I wonder how many tails I’d have by now if I hadn’t grown outgrown ring-tail collecting. I’d probably be the scary old bachelor at the end of the street with the dandelion lawn and all the shades pulled.”
(2) “Subject: Better sip than sorry.
“The plastic drinking straw has come under intense scrutiny lately for adding tons of discarded plastic to our ecosystem, and California, of course, is on the front line. I read a report that ‘possible criminal penalties for violating Santa Barbara’s new (plastic straw ban) ordinance include six months in jail and a $1,000 fine — roughly equivalent to a Class B misdemeanor in many states.’
“This news item inspired the latest cartoon in my head. The drawing depicts a jail cell, with a prisoner #1 sitting on the bottom bunk, asking his new roommate: ‘What are you in for?’
“The new prisoner, #2, explains: ‘Plastic soda straw distribution.’
“The third balloon, from prisoner #1: ‘That sucks!'”
Then & Now
Leading to: Ask Bulletin Board
Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff: “From about 1905 to the 1930s or early ’40s, the city of St. Paul had a marketing icon called ‘St. Paul’ who looked like a jolly bald-headed monk. He wore a halo that had an electric light bulb attached to it. I’ve seen ‘St. Paul’ on a watch fob, medallions, a number of postcards (one of which I included in an earlier BB entry) and also a button (without the light bulb attached to his halo).
“I recently purchased a plaster statue of ‘St. Paul’ from, where else, eBay.
“It is about 10 inches tall. Engraved on the base in front is ‘OUR LITTLE PAL’ and ‘SAINT PAUL, MINN.’ On the back of the base is ‘COPYRIGHTED 07’ and ‘G.S. Co.’
“Does anyone out there in BB land have any information concerning the maker of the statue or the background of our little pal ‘St. Paul’ in general?”
Our birds, ourselves
KH of White Bear Lake writes: “What was the most difficult choice you had to make today?”
Ask a silly question
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: Bypassing the niceties.
“This dialogue occurred as I approached the cashier at the Rainbow in Maplewood:
“C: ‘How’s it goin’ today?’
“R.P.: Fine, thanks. How about yourself?’
“C: ‘I’m at work.’
“R.P. (laughing): ‘I’ve never heard that one before. I like it.’”
There’s nothin’ like a simile!
Or: The Permanent Paternal Record
IGHGrampa: “Al B‘s comment about someone ‘scurrying around like a sack of squirrels’ reminded me of a comment my dad made once. We were in the car driving in downtown Bismarck. The streets were busy with pedestrians. One overweight lady who had apparently overgrown her skirt caught his eye. She was walking away from us, and Dad eyed her with the comment ‘Looks like a couple of pigs in a bag.’ It was one of those remarks I appreciated when I got a little older.”
Al B of Hartland reports: “I tiptoed through nature.
“House wrens had become the main source of birdsong in my yard. Their competition came from fledgling birds crying ‘Feed me.’ The demanding youngsters inspired me to pick ripe tomatoes. I heard a dog day (annual) cicada call. I typically hear them from July into September. Hot weather fans their singing flames. These insects are providers of late-summer sounds and memories. Folklore says that a cicada’s buzzing song declares that frost is but six weeks away, but the cicada isn’t a proficient predictor of dropping temperatures.
“I spotted earwigs on the milkweeds I’d planted for the monarch butterflies. An obvious feature of an earwig is the pair of pincers or forceps at the tip of the abdomen. Both sexes have these pincers; in males they are large and curved, whereas they’re straight in females.
“I watched red fox kits at play. I love seeing foxes for many reasons. One is that I dislike Lyme disease. A study found the red fox to be a major agent of control of that disease, owing to its fondness for mice as food. Mice are efficient transmitters of Lyme disease.
“I watched American white pelicans floating on the water. Pelicans have a pouch that would make a kangaroo proud. Dixon Lanier Merritt wrote: ‘A wonderful bird is the pelican / His beak can hold more than his belly can / He can hold in his beak enough food for a week / But I’m damned if I see how the hellican!’ Pelicans are splendid fliers and soar magnificently on giant wings, but becoming airborne can be challenging without the aid of the wind. Pelicans must run over the water while beating their wings and pounding the water’s surface with their feet to get enough speed for takeoff. Their feet flapping sounded like Fred Flintstone starting his car.”
Our poultry, ourselves
DebK of Rosemount: “Subject: News from St. Isidore Farm.
“Our Chicago grandkids are here, and while we were messing around near the barn, our grandson came over and asked why there was a baby chick in the cat house. Naturally, we went to investigate. Sure enough, there are three (BLACK) chicks and several more eggs still to hatch, all incubated by our wild Araucana hen, Astrid, the one who lived outside all winter. WHY would she lay eggs in the cats’ winter quarters??? We’re thinking of naming the chicks #1, #2, #3, etc. 😊
“Praying we can protect mama and babies from the barn cats and from the new puppy.”
What’s in a name?
Or: The Permanent Sonly Record
The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “Our middle son kept his eye out for wounded birds. There must have been a bird-hungry cat roaming our neighborhood, because Johnny found a lot of them. Since our household already contained — in addition to six kids — a dog, a cat and a tankful of goldfish, we were not accommodating his desire for a pet bird, so he figured this was his only way to attain one.
“Each time he found a fallen bird, he named it an appropriate name to fit its disability: illustrious names such as ‘Broken Wing’ or ‘One Foot’; you get the idea. And each and every time he called it by its name, the poor thing would immediately die. He decided to play it safe. He figured that if he could keep one of those poor birds alive for at least a week, THEN he could safely give it a name.
“When he had actually managed to nurse a pathetic-looking creature for an entire seven days, he invited the entire family to its christening. We were all told to dress up and assemble on the lawn on the very spot where he had found the bird, and he would reveal his new pet’s name.
“Oh, it was a Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post Cover moment as our red-headed 12-year-old son — wrists protruding from his outgrown best suit coat — held that poor scraggly looking misfit in the air and solemnly said: ‘I hereby name you FLUFFY!’ Fluffy lifted its head up and promptly collapsed in a heap in Johnny’s hands, deader than a doornail.”
Life as we know it
Dolly Dimples: “Subject: Stockings — or not.
“As I was struggling this morning to put on my compression stockings (doctor’s orders), a tortuous procedure at its best, I got to thinking about the various kinds of hosiery I have worn in my lifetime.
“When I was a young girl growing up, I wore a garter — a strip of cloth worn around the waist to which a minimum of two garters were fastened and hung three to four inches from the belt to fasten on the stocking. Garter belts were not made for comfort and sometimes made your skin itch. Their purpose was to keep the stockings from sagging around your ankles. Stockings, in those days, were not made of stretchy material like we have now, but woven and bunchy.
“Years later, I was challenged by wearing silk stockings which had a seam down the back. In order to be considered well-put-together, that seam had to be straight in the middle of your leg. It was desirable to have another person evaluate the position of the seam, to make sure it was properly placed, before you appeared in public.
“Today, garter belts are not extinct but are worn by some young women to give the wearer a ‘sensual sense of erotica.’
“Today our stockings stay up by themselves and can be as long or as short as we like. In fact, in summer, many women forgo wearing stockings at all. Sigh. I cannot experience that luxury, as I must do as the doctor ordered.”
Including: CAUTION! Words at Play!
Donald: “Subject: Was it a ‘charging offense’?
“From ‘SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE’ in the latest issue of Sports Illustrated: ‘A Virginia man called the police during a pickup basketball game to report a hard foul by his opponent.’ ”
Vanity, thy name is . . .
Plus: Fellow travelers
Dennis from Eagan: (1) “WWJD (What Would Jesus Drive)?
“I saw a red Chevy Traverse today (near the MSP airport) with a ‘JCHRIST’ license plate.”
(2) “My wife and I went to downtown Chicago on July 16-18 and crossed a few drawbridges over the river while there. Only while walking over the bridges can you get a closeup of the roadway’s center seam and the gears that open and close the span.”
Their theater of seasons
Mounds View Swede reports: “The wife and I visited my grand-nephew’s new home in Grayslake, Illinois, for a summer birthday celebration last weekend, and their home is next to a patch of prairie that hasn’t been developed yet. I couldn’t resist looking at the wildflower blossoms there. From age 3 to around 13, I had access to prairies all around as the subdivision north of Chicago where we lived was slowly built up. My friends and I spent a lot of time playing in them, and to see this one was like old times — though I appreciate the flowers a lot more now.
“This first photo is Queen Anne’s Lace.
“This is a Prairie Coneflower.
“This is a thistle blossom seen from the top . .
“. . . and from the side.
“This last one is prairie clover.
“I have never looked closely at any of these before and enjoyed the diversity of blossom styles.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: We have a book recommendation for you, Swede (and others).
It’s the late, great Paul Gruchow’s “Journal of a Prairie Year.”
Our theater of seasons (Floral Division)
Or: Only a _________ would notice!
Barbara of Afton: “I enjoy the pictures from Mounds View Swede, and it’s great to see all these flowers flourishing. But as a Lilyophile, I would like to point out that there is a difference between daylilies and (true) lilies. Daylilies (Hemerocallis) have a fan of leaves with flower stalks emerging from them. The blossoms last only one day — hence the name. Lilies (Lilium) grow from a bulb with a single stem from which the blooms form at the top. These blooms last for many days.
“This is a distinction I’ve been trying to teach for several years — alas, to no avail.
“The pictures from Mounds View Swede include both flowers — all beautiful.”
Our theater of seasons (Floral Division)
And: The Permanent Paternal Record
Writes Cheesehead By Proxy (“back in Northern Minnesota”): “Subject: Speaking of lilies. . .
“I’ve been enjoying the flower photographs you’ve shared with us. Thanks!
“We’ve had a fabulous showing from my father’s Hyperion daylilies this year.
“Perhaps it’s because of all the rain we’ve had.
“They are just plain yellow with no ruffles, but are beautiful in such a simple way. They always make their debut in time for what was Dad’s birthday, July 19. They were the last gift he gave me before he died, 20 years ago.”
Here & There
Yet again, here’s Mounds View Swede: “Swedes in Minnesota.
“My wife and I had a chance to visit an old classmate’s farm up north for lunch and a gathering of other classmates. This is a heritage farm that her grandparents made when they came to Minnesota and was where she was raised. I found similar things to farms in Sweden and things here in Minnesota.
“I couldn’t resist getting this photo by the old pump.
“The husband made this grow house to help get plants started in the spring. I saw the same idea being used at one of my cousinS’ lakeside stuga, or cottage.
“The barn has been here a long time. It’s used for storage now more than anything, but was very important when there were cows being raised and milked. The gardens need to be fenced to keep the deer from eating everything.
“These phlox were brought from Sweden, and I think of them as ‘heritage’ plants.
“But lilies are being raised here, too. [Bulletin Board says: Or is it a daylily? Only Barbara of Afton knows for sure!]
“I am not sure what his plant is, but enjoyed the creamy petals.
“We had a great time together catching up on news and learning more about the Swedish family histories of my classmates. My wife and I have been studying Swedish since 2005 and enjoy the struggle to learn this language. Many of our classmates have been doing the same thing, and we stay together for years taking the same classes at the American Swedish Institute.”
Gee, our old La Salle ran great!
Zoo Lou of St.. Paul: “I reckon most folks are familiar with ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ and the fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina, where the neighbors are gentle and kind, and the kids grow tall and strong and healthy and free.
“Usually idyllic and righteous (if you turn a blind eye to Otis Campbell’s being soused and the Potato Queen’s skimpy outfit), this peaceful little burg could, on occasion, display a wild side, like the time Aunt Bee and Opie went away for a few days, leaving Andy a carefree bachelor to do anything he pleased.
“The first thing Andy does is go to the store and buy some ‘comfort’ food that would make any gourmet jealous: wild mushrooms, chocolate syrup, canned oysters in chili sauce, pickled avocados and shrimp enchiladas.
“When he runs into friend Howard Sprague, Andy tells him he really likes ‘batching it’ and might go home, take off his shoes, and walk around the living room in his stockings. Straitlaced Howard is stunned: ‘You mean you’d actually leave your shoes in the middle of the living room floor? Gosh!’
“But the situation was about to get even wilder. Thanks to some mix-ups and blunders by Goober, Andy finds himself eating three spaghetti dinners in one night. Up to his eyeballs in pasta, Andy’s expressions of anger, discomfort and total shock are priceless.
“Andy’s ordeal reminded me of our traditional Christmas Eve spaghetti dinner with meatballs and sausage. I tried to imagine what would happen if I ate all that food three times in short order. Remember Mount Vesuvius?! If there was one saving grace for Andy, none of his dinners had meatballs and sausage. Otherwise, he might have made like Vesuvius.
“By the way, when Aunt Bee came home, she thought Andy looked a bit thin (huh?) and decided to make him something to eat. Can you guess what it was? (Hint: It wasn’t lutefisk).”
Life as we know it
Happy Medium: “Subject: Flunking First Grade Work Book.
“I attended a one-room country school which housed 30-plus students in grades one through eight, with one teacher at the helm.
“Going to school with my brothers and sisters was an exciting event. I had visited school several times, so I knew the ropes and what was expected of me.
“There were four students in my first-grade class: three girls and one boy. We were led by the teacher into reading with fluency. And that we did.
“After a time, our teacher handed each of us a brand-new work book with our name printed on the over. Aside from answering questions correctly, we were admonished to keep our work books neat. A prize would be given to the owner of the neatest book. The challenge was on.
“I held my book proudly to my chest and walked back to my desk — determined to win the prize, whatever it might be. I could keep my work book neat. Yes, I could. And I’d answer all the questions correctly, too.
“Upon reaching my desk, I noticed the lower edge of the cover was a little dog-eared. That was nothing. I could bend the dog-ear back, and no one would see the difference. The book still looked almost new. All was well. Of course, all was well.
“Alas, by the time all questions had been answered on each page, my work book didn’t look like new. Just an ever so little bit of raspberry jam had been smeared across the middle of the cover. The book was covered with dirt from who knows where. Many pages were torn, and some pages were quite soft where I had to correct my answers several times. The top of the cover had a dog-ear to match the dog-ear at the bottom. And the back cover had come off completely.
“I don’t recall what the coveted prize was, because I had flunked First Grade Work Book. My book came in fourth of four.”
It takes all kinds
Leading to: Hmmmmmmmm (responsorial)
Lawyergirl of St. Paul: “Responsorial to Auction Girl and the infant Jesus of Prague.
“Catholics pray through the intercession of many saints, including the Infant of Prague. Most statues are sacramentals, as they’ve been blessed. In Catholic tradition, blessed objects aren’t to be sold, because they’ve been blessed.
“Statues are made in many sizes, a few inches to several feet, depending on who they’re for and what size space they’re intended to be used in. They’re made from many materials, including plastic, cloth, stone and plaster. Reminding us of the saint depicted, we might receive them as gifts, whether at Baptism, first Communion or Confirmation. My parents received a glass statue of the Blessed Virgin as a wedding present.
“‘The more you honour me, the more I will bless you’ is what the original statue of the infant Jesus of Prague said to the man who carved its new hands. Many miracles have been attributed to the Infant, and some new clothing has been provided to the Child in Prague as a result of prayers through the intercession of the infant Jesus; this is why the statue has so many clothes. The original crown was a papal gift, so it makes sense that the other statues would have the same, especially one that was at a church or convent. Note that while we pray through the intercession of the saint depicted, we don’t venerate that saint but rather ask for that saint’s prayers to Jesus; in Catholic world, saints are those we know live in heaven, so it’s not unlike asking your relatives in another state to pray for you.
“What do people do with statues of saints? They pray through the intercession of the saint depicted, in this case, often for good health. Whatever your problem, there’s a saint associated with it, and it is most often one of these saints whose intercession we pray through when experiencing that problem. There are lists online and saints are patrons of occupations, preventing or curing illness, assisting with any sort of trouble, and cities — including St. Paul whose namesake is our patron.”
Life imitates advertising
Silver Haired Fox of Almelund, Wisconsin: “Subject: Sitting on eggs.
“Awhile ago, my husband and I started seeing ads for ‘Egg Sitter Support Cushions.’ The ads would ask a woman to sit on one. When she got off her chair, the man would remove the cushion and there would be an unbroken raw egg. We laughed about it.
“A few days later, we went to Walmart to get a few groceries. My husband stopped in the Handicap spot and waited while I went into the store. When I came out, I put the few things in our back seat — except for the carton of 18 eggs, which I placed on my front seat while I pushed my cart back into the store. I came back to the car, opened the passenger front door and got in. Bad move! I had sat on the plastic bag with the 18 eggs!
“I told my husband I couldn’t look until we got home. Reached home and opened the bag. Not even one broken egg!”
The Lowest Common Consumer
Wayne Nelson of Forest Lake writes: “Subject: Really????
“My wife was making some cookies this morning when she noticed this warning on a bag of flour.
“Come on, Really?
“There has to be a pretty good story to cause this warning to be put on flour bags. Kind of makes you go ‘Hmmm’?
“Like we need to be warned that the coffee we order is hot. Duh!”
Or: Know thyself!
Dragonslayer of Oakdale reports: “Subject: Am I cracking up?
“The other day, while transporting my wife to a thrift-store adventure, I turned my turn signal on — and in my mind, in cadence with the beat of the turn signal, I heard Face Book, Face Book, Face Book. I thought: How strange. Two days later, while power-washing my deck, the pulsing of the power washer said Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.
“This doesn’t happen in my life. I think age may be scrambling my life experiences.”
Life (and death) as we know it
Sharon of Roseville: “It occurred to me this morning when I was taking a shower. I was thinking of three friends who are in their golden years, and all three are having medical issues. Faithfully they make doctor appointments and follow their advice. I take some of them to doctor appointments, and they return the favor.
“Time passes, and they make another appointment — same complaint; same doctor, or a new one for a second opinion. They scour the Internet looking for miraculous new cures. They order newly enhanced vitamins, they buy the copper bracelets, they try new treatments. Sometimes they have success. Many times nothing changes. They believe if they try long enough, something will work, and that is why so many older people lie in nursing-home beds day after day and month after month. They are waiting for the miracle.
“I am reminded of BUILT-IN/PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE: ‘the practice of making or designing something (such as a car) in such a way that it will only be usable for a short time so that people will have to buy another one.’
“OK, people are not cars. But if you can step back and take a look at life on this planet, most living things have a defined lifespan. The planet has a complex ecosystem where organisms and environmental units need to work together. That is why human beings have a built-in/planned obsolescence called old age. If we didn’t, we would never be old.
“I think we would focus on those who will follow and live wonderfully creative lives. When they take up the space we relinquish, we should go gently into this good night.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Dylan Thomas, as you know, had a different idea.
A thought for today
Passed along by Kathy S. of St. Paul: “A nice thought for the day, in Gaelic:
Go raibh maith agat — translated as ‘May you have goodness.’
“A new member of an Irish genealogy group used it.”
Band Name of the Day: Kick the Bucket
Website of the Day, from The Monkey Lover’s Wife of Northfield: “I always seem to miss seeing the Northern Lights — and then, today, I saw an article that said a minor geomagnetic storm (a G1 on a scale of G1-G5) was possible tonight, and that this website had the 30-minute forecast. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised this exists — swpc.noaa.gov/node/45 — but I am so excited to bookmark it!”
Confidential to RMK of the North Loop: See? We do listen!